On July 29, baseball’s Kiwoom and LG made a trade that swapped the ‘present’ for the ‘future’. Kiwoom gave up starting pitcher Choi Won-tae and received two pitching prospects and a first-round pick next season. The centerpiece of Kiwoom’s acquisition was outfielder Lee Ju-hyung (22).
Kiwoom wanted to evaluate Lee’s adaptability to the first team for the remainder of the season, as his hitting talent is recognized. The team also wanted to see if Lee would be able to fill the “middle infield/outfield” gap left by Lee Jung-hoo’s departure to the United States later this season.
In August, a month after the transfer, the Kiwoom bench seems to have already gained some confidence in their ability to provide an answer.
Before the SSG match against Munhak on the 30th, Kiwoom head coach Hong Won-ki gave a so-called “one-month evaluation” to questions about Lee Joo-hyung. In 27 games since his transfer, Lee is batting .327 (107-for-35) with four home runs, 21 RBIs, an OPS of .881 and three stolen bases. Hong gave him a series of “passing grades” as he evaluated each pitch.
“He has the ability to turn any pitch into an infield hit. He’s making all his swings on any pitch, and he’s producing results, and that alone is very intimidating for pitchers.” Hong added: “I’ve seen a lot of players, but it’s rare to see a young player who can swing at any pitch. It’s a testament to his confidence in hitting.”
Hong also highlighted Lee’s “learning ability” through two meetings with Lotte’s foreign left-hander Charlie Barnes. Lee struck out in three straight at-bats against Charlie in his first start against the Gocheok Lotte on Aug. 8, but turned things around in their rematch on Aug. 18, going 1-for-2 with a walk and a hit in three at-bats. Hong said, “There are a lot of pitchers I haven’t seen before, so it will be tough. But Dui-hyung is different from the first time to the next time,” Hong said, praising his ability to cope after a setback.스포츠토토
The initial concern was the defense. However, this was more of a hunch. “His start after judging the pitch, his focus on chasing, and his shoulder (throwing ability) are all fine and smooth,” Hong said of Lee Joo-hyung, who plays center field.
The only thing left to check is his ‘full-time endurance’. “It’s my first full-time experience in the first team, so we need to see how the physical problems will appear,” Hong said. “If it’s the beginning of the season, even with the current record, there will be high expectations in the top of various categories, and there are many things to look at, but there are also things that we need to continue to look at until next year.”
Perhaps the only thing that hasn’t changed between his first day at Kiwoom and now, a month later, is his attitude. When asked if he feels comfortable as a first-team player, Hong said, “Not yet. When I see him moving around on the pitch, I can see that his hunger to play is still there, and his desperation is still there.”